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Meet 21 Creative Women of Chicago

From stylists & designers to photographers, filmakers and DJs, these amazing women are shaping Chicago’s ever expanding creative scene

Emily Wiss

Emily is wearing the Eugene Taylor v-neck color block dress | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Emily is wearing the Eugene Taylor v-neck color block dress | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Emily Wiss—artist, stylist and creative director—is one of the most authentic style mavens in the city. She rocks streetwear regularly, in part of her working with city favorite boutique Saint Alfred, but always has a slightly west coast, bohemian touch incorporated into all her outfits that compliment her laid back personality.

What Do You Do?
I work as an art facilitator for a non for profit cancer support organization, I work at Saint Alfred, and I do
freelance art, styling, and creative direction.

Who or what inspires you?
Cindy Sherman, Amy Sedaris, and women who are unapologetically themselves 100% of the time. Also pride in where you come from, your people, and your vision as seen in artists like Teen Angel and brands like BornxRaised

Why do you choose to create?
To get these weird images and ideas out of my head and make room for more. It’s a necessary release. Always keep it movin!

Why Chicago?
I have been asking myself that all too often as of late, but it’s a proud time to be from Chicago. There’s eyes on us right now, and the youngin’s in music and art/fashion are to thank for that. It’s nice to see us gain recognition for something positive again. In Chicago we have a few extra hardships than most but that’s what makes us so tough

Whats Next?
In an ideal world, a black El Camino and an open road..a few art shows and gigs on the way 🙂

Follow Emily Wiss on IG @boutabentley

Tayler Nash

Tayler is wearing the Eugene Taylor black v-neck shoulder dress | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Tayler is wearing the Eugene Taylor black v-neck shoulder dress | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Tayler Nash is a Chicago style girl through and through. The creative producer keeps her fashion followers constantly on their toes with her ever changing looks; she can be rocking RSVP Gallery and a leather jacket by day and switching it up to a glamorous vintage inspired jumpsuit by night. What makes her personal style so authentically Chicago however, is her unabashed confidence in what she wears daily.

What do you do?
My name is Tayler Nash. I’m a freelance creative producer “art bad”, dot connector, digital darling and multitask mami stylist but my newest & most important role is a mama. It’s hard for me to define my role because I’ve always been more then titles. I like what I like. I enjoy helping people in any way I can, getting my ideas out, creating art and writing everyday. Creating was my only outlet for a long time when life was kicking my young ass so it stuck and will always be a part of my identity. At times when I didn’t want to focus on myself I chose to connect the dots for those around me in anyway I could. What’s the point of life if you aren’t helping others along the way?

What inspire’s you?
Family – creative peers – life – the little things that get overlooked – people that have put on before me. The people that I’ve been blessed to call friends and family inspire me. I feed off conversations, feelings, interactions, settings but also music which has been a constant. For the past 3 years my boyfriend was working on his album so being apart of that process ( ups and downs) was very inspirational even if I fail to admit it sometimes.   I feel everything deeply which is a gift and a curse because I get invested in my experiences. My interactions with my daughter inspire me bc she makes me excited about the tiniest of things. Everything is brand new to a child. Things we take for granted like the heat of sun shining, coolness of rain drops or the feeling of grass is all brand new to them. I want that attention to detail to reflect in my work. My mom has always been one of the biggest consistent beams of light and inspo. It’s always been her and I through this novella which is life. Even when she didn’t get exactly what I wanted to do she pushed me to figure it out and believed in the bigger picture. I am also creatively curious. So whenever I find something new I’m into I dive into it. I obsess until I become seasoned in the subject. I especially find inspiration learning about the people that have trail blazed that avenue. How did they get interested in the subject? What did they go through to get to that point? I tend to get spongy.

Why do you create?
I create to get my ideas out. I create to inspire other people to do the same even with little resources because if there is a will there is a way. I’ve always drawn, painted, sketched or had a particular eye for art as long as I can remember. From there I found others forms of art to express myself: building websites, creative direction, styling web stores and offering my input in whatever situation necessary. I create because it’s something I love and I’ll never be able to turn it off. I can’t turn my ideas off. Whenever I’m stagnant and not working on something I feel strange – sad. I’d rather do what makes me happy for the rest of my life.

Why Chicago?
I find the energy in Chicago very inspiring. You can travel all over the US but there is no place like Chicago. No matter how far I go I always gravitate back to home. I as born here – lived here my whole life – my family and friends are here – basically all my people. The world’s agenda compared to your own will have you feeling low sometimes so whenever I touch down I feel replenished – reaffirmed – loved and ready to get back to it. Especially after I eat some real food. I first got my start in 8th grade in Chicago when I fell i love with street wear and designing sneakers. I used to sweep floors in Self Conscious and show up every weekend to intern under Cliff and Chris. I thought they were so tight – I would do whatever they needed me to just so I could be on the scene. I got treated like a baby they turned me down a lot even had to bring my momma in to vouch for me. Those experiences opened the doors for a lot of my passions and I got exposed to some very influential people at a young age. (also I think I met Tesha B that way, at some sneaker event)

What’s next?
Taking my passions more seriously. I have a tendency to have amazing ideas – sit on them or pass them along – then someone else will do it and I’m like damn. I think that happens a lot to people in the creative industry. The best combat is to find a way to put out out your ideas by any means. Why wait? So that’s what I’m doing. Perfecting, so I can put out good stuff that best encompasses the many sides of me. Sometimes that has even meant hopping in to be the fake model of my vision. I’m just trying to impress myself and my daughter in the long run. Live a happy life with lots of laughs & light sarcasm regardless. I’ve been working on a kid’s book for the last 6 months. I’m excited to see that come into fruition.  I also want to build a bigger platform for young women in the creative industry – a network of sorts. Right now i’m a work in the progress so I appreciate the patience and well wishes from those rooting for me.

Follow Tayler Nash on Twitter @kissmynash
Follow Tayler Nash on IG @kissmynash

Briana Smith

Briana is wearing the Eugene Taylor silver metallic jumpsuit | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Briana is wearing the Eugene Taylor silver metallic jumpsuit | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Briana Smith is one of the most down to earth but simultaneously hardest working women in Chicago. The media marketing guru and sporty fashionista, has run her popular sports and lifestyle blog Ballinois.com for a few years now, where she promotes her love and respect of basketball and it’s cemented place in Chicago culture. Her love of sports doesn’t stop her style however—the curly headed media personality is always dressed on point no matter what she’s doing, and can often be spotted in spunky dresses and boots, oversized vests and blazers but also of course, a jersey.

What do you do?
I produce sports content, videos, & events. Currently, I work as a PA for the Big Ten Network—which includes editing video, cutting highlights, and getting paid to watch sports. I am also the Flight Ambassador for Jordan Brand (Central Territory). I plan our activations, work with products/athletes, digital content, and help get the community engaged in Jordan Brand/Station 23 —I’m doing all of this while still working on my Sports blog, Ballinois.com

Who or what inspires you?
My childhood inspired me the most. Growing up my father took us all to bitty league basketball—I was the only child that sucked. I was always in advanced art program—anything that the park district offered. I loved simple things like flaming hots, basketball, & anything artistic especially dance. I lived back and forth between NY & Chicago because my grandmother worked as a TV producer, my other grandma a piano teacher, & my mom a wedding/funeral singer. I took all that and was inspired to create my own doors.

Why do you choose to create?
I have one tattoo, a caged bird. It represents the first time I ever read a poem, by Maya Angelou (I know why the caged bird sings). To tie the story together, I choose to create because creativity is FREEDOM. I’m best at reading, writing, and creating. Creativity are my wings that help me to fly & therefore I am not caged to the ways of the world.

Why Chicago?
There are so many hidden gems in Chicago—from the people, sports, culture, & food especially. It’s not an easy place to succeed at, but I’ve found the key to Chicago is being authentic, authenticity keeps you relevant, respected, and successful. This is my home base forever, although I always travel and intend on having a few places throughout the world. We harbor some of the greatest talent.

What’s next?
Oh, the best is yet to come. I am currently working on my own television show pitch—not a reality show!!! And I’m also working on a cool campaign that’ll bring my A-list client contacts alongside my community in efforts to do help the neighborhood. I’ve seen too much death in Chicago. It has taught me to treat everyone like FAMILY & that a smile or simple laugh with a stranger can go a long way.

Follow Briana Smith on IG @ballinoisbri
ballinois.com

Shani Crowe

Shani is wearing the Eugene Taylor sharkskin jogger set | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Shani is wearing the Eugene Taylor sharkskin jogger set | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Shani Crowe is one of the most exciting and respected artists to come out of Chicago recently. Crowe has received worldwide attention this year for pieces of work titled “BRAIDS” where she showcases the endless ways hair braiding can be emulated and styled. All of her interdisciplinary visual work centers around the history and constant influence of the African Diaspora in modern day culture—and her style is no exception.

What do you do?
I’m an interdisciplinary artist, which is a cute title for “I create whatever I want with whatever material I choose”.

Who or what inspires you?
I find inspiration in most things, especially nature. I’m a pensive person with a vivid imagination, so for me, inspiration is greatly attributed to atmosphere and solitude. This combination allows me to notice and appreciate the nuanced beauty of my surroundings, and gets my inner gears turning. It’s a safe space, It’s creative meditation.

Why do you choose to create?
Its very natural to me, and it’s fulfilling to manifest your own ideas. Because I can create, I just have to. Life is short, I encourage everyone to at least try to persue their passions. Invest in your vision, try to make the life you want possible. Vote for Pedro (yourself) and all of your wildest dreams will come true.

Why Chicago?
Good question. I have great friends for life here, But if I could pack them up somehow and dip somewhere warmer ??

What’s next?
I plan to continue to create and shoot BRAID works and create a book within 3 years I’m also going to travel as much as I can.

Follow Shani Crowe on IG @crowezilla
shanicrowe.com

Sal Yvat

Sal is wearing the Eugene Taylor alined bellbottoms | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Sal is wearing the Eugene Taylor alined bellbottoms | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Sal Yvat is hands down the most adventurous stylist in Chicago. The young southerner—a native of Memphis, Tennessee—has been slaying the editorial game since she first came to the Windy City. Her styling work often mimics the risks she takes within her own personal style—often switching up tomboy and vintage rock inspired looks to ultra glam 70s flare or bohemian silhouettes. Definitely not a one trick pony, she also edits Off-Kilter Magazine’s digital component and plans to take over the web and coding industry next.

What do you do?
I am an art director specializing in styling, set and web design. I am also the digital editor of Off-Kilter Magazine.

Who or what inspires you?
I am super inspired by the south- southern culture, southern twang, southern aesthetics- Shirley Kurata, Solange of course, Erykah Badu, 70’s music, classic vinyl covers, and Area Nyc.

Why do you choose to create?
I was born a creator, and we all are really. Some of us create art- tangible things, some of us create perfect math equations and cures for diseases. I think humans are natural creatives, we all have to find what drives us. However, I chose to go to art school because I had to take the risk. Being from Memphis, TN- a comfortable city- it’s rare that people leave to pursue their dreams… My drive to be great drove me to create.

Why Chicago?
I actually only chose Chicago for Columbia however, it was a great choice. The people here are incredible, the experiences, and the culture here is wonderful.

What’s next?
I want to eventually have a consulting business, in between now and then, I plan to continue styling, and become more of an image consultant. I have a dream to style for Jeffrey Campbell in the future. I definitely think I can. I want to learn everything I can about web design, and become the new Squarespace.

Follow Sal Yvat on Twitter @salsogroovy
Follow Sal Yvat on IG @salsogroovy

Giselle Gastby

giselle

Giselle is wearing the Eugene Taylor black v-neck shoulder dress | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Giselle Gatsby is an independent photographer, jewelry designer and founder of the Chicago based art and style publication Glamour Girl. Gatsby’s work and personal style are inherently intertwined–both being examples of her love for fashion and glamour but always being showcased in a raw and unfiltered light.

What do you do?
That’s complicated, I am everything and I am nothing. You could call me an artist, a designer, a photographer, an editor, a curator, a pre-med student.

Who or what inspires you?
Love, friends, complete strangers, the sun, divine beauty, liberation, pleasure, nothing at all.

Why do you choose to create?
Creativity is inherent in all human beings. It’s natural. I love to create because it doesn’t need to make sense and I’ll never fully understand it.

Why Chicago?
Chicago is the local bar of the Midwest, budding with potential and talent. Most importantly it’s close to my family, my greatest inspiration.

What’s next?
For the first time in my life, I don’t know what is next and I’m happy about that but hopefully a road of artistic excess and true happiness.

Follow Giselle Gastby on Twitter @gisellegatsby
Follow Giselle Gastby on IG @gisellegatsby
gisellegatsby.com

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